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Guardianship has a different meaning than a conservator. A guardian is someone who takes over legal matters and personal matters of any individual. The individual may be a minor (someone not of legal age), someone who is disabled, or someone who is too old to be able to make decisions. Usually, guardians are for minors like children below legal age. 

The reasons why guardians are appointed to watch over minors are many. The minor’s parents may no longer be around hence a guardian is appointed in place to watch over them. A guardian’s role may vary too from person to person. 

A guardian should not be confused with a conservator. A conservator is appointed when the person is disabled or mentally unsound to make their own decisions. Sometimes a guardian may be appointed to look after disabled people and people of unsound minds. However, a conservator takes over much of the legal side of things for the disabled person or person of unsound mind. 

What can a guardian do? 

A guardian has legal rights over a child – an individual not of legal age. The guardian of the child can help to apply for identity cards, passports, and school for the children they are looking after. They are also responsible for the child’s overall support, health, and education. 

Not everybody can be the legal guardian of a child. Under the law, both the biological father and mother only can be the legal guardian of the child. If the parents are divorced, the civil court may appoint either one of the parents as the legal guardian of the children. In some cases, both parents can be joint guardians of the child under a joint custody to either of the parents. 

In any given case where both parents have passed away, then a relative may take over and be the children’s legal guardian. The new legal guardian can be an aunt or uncle, or even a grandparent. The New legal guardian may file for an application to the court with the help of a lawyer. Through a lawyer, they may apply for the guardianship or custody of the children. 

However, there are cases and scenarios where people may dispute the guardianship of the children. Some relatives believe that they make better guardians of the children, hence wanting to take over as their legal guardians. 

If that was indeed the case, you may consult a lawyer and be advised upon knowing all the background and circumstances of the dispute. By the end of the day, the children’s overall well-being should be in everyone’s paramount interest. 

Are there any other alternatives to guardianships?

Yes, there are alternatives to guardianships. They may include

  • Case or care management
  • Healthcare surrogacy
  • Trusts
  • Powers of the attorney
  • Living wills
  • Community advocacy systems
  • Community agencies and/or services
  • Support decision-making networks. 

Note that although these may be alternatives to legal guardians, it may not have the full rights of a legal guardians. If unsure, please consult one of our lawyers for further assistance. 

When should you appoint a legal guardian? 

Basically anytime in point, in all honesty. There is no timeframe or deadline for anyone to appoint a legal guardian for your children. However, here are some circumstances where and when you should appoint a legal guardian. 

  • Before you set foot traveling overseas without your children
  • As you began aging and you still have underage children
  • When you are really sick and have no cure for your illness or disease
  • Before you undergo a major medical procedure or treatment
  • After a divorce
  • After you have remarried

If an appointed legal guardian suddenly becomes unable to fill their role as the legal guardian (eg: death, illness, etc) 

Bottom Line 

If you need to appoint a legal guardian today, feel free to talk to one of our lawyers. Appointing a legal guardian should not and is not a complicated matter. Reach out to us and let us walk you through the process.